KU Resecures $7M in Federal Funding for Educational Opportunity Programs

LAWRENCE — The Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP) has recently secured over $7 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the University of Kansas can continue to help first-generation and low-income students not only reach college but also be successful once they get there.

Under the leadership of CEOP director Ngondi Kamaṱuka, the university received funding to continue four highly successful TRIO programs: KU TRIO Upward BoundKU TRIO Talent Search and two KU TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers, which have decades-long legacies of supporting Kansans.

“A confluence of socioeconomic disadvantages works against these students and adults from first-generation and low-income backgrounds,” Kamaṱuka said. "But these TRIO programs provide the support systems that make positive differences and ultimately lead to success.”

KU TRIO Upward Bound

Two KU TRIO Upward Bound students build underwater robots during an afternoon STEM activity during the six-week long Non-Bridge Summer Institute. Credit: Laura Kingston.

Providing academic support and pre-college experiences to help assure high school students have success in college is the goal of KU TRIO Upward Bound. The $2.3 million grant will allow KU TRIO Upward Bound to annually serve 94 students who attend Highland Park High School in Topeka and Free State High School in Lawrence as well as F.L. Schlagle and Wyandotte high schools in Kansas City, Kansas.

In addition to monthly advising sessions, workshops, and cultural and educational trips throughout the academic year, KU TRIO Upward Bound includes two summer programs that offer participants a chance to experience college life. Designed to strengthen participants’ academic skills, provide cultural enrichment and career exploration opportunities, students in grades nine through 11 can participate in the six-week Non-Bridge Summer Institute. For Upward Bound students who have completed high school, the program hosts a Bridge Summer Institute to improve college navigation skills and the opportunity to enroll in regular university classes taught by KU faculty.

KU TRIO Talent Search

A KU TRIO Talent Search middle schooler looked through college and career books to complete a career exploration scavenger hunt during the Career Horizons Summer Camp.

KU TRIO Talent Search’s legacy of supporting thousands of Wyandotte County youth has been under the leadership of director Rebecca Dukstein since 1994. The most recent five-year award of $2.58 million will continue this legacy of serving over 900 middle and high school students annually.

Once in the program, KU TRIO Talent Search provides students with free opportunities and guidance to help them graduate from high school and enroll in an institution of higher education. The wide range of services includes academic and career-exploration workshops, college preparation sessions, family events, advising, college visits, assistance with college admissions and financial aid processes, and summer programming.

“TRIO programs are more than opening doors. The opportunities provided inspire participants to see how their dreams are truly achievable goals,” Dukstein said. “We help students and families navigate all paths towards success in higher education. Every day, we support students in becoming who they are meant to be, and that feels incredible.”

KU TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers

The university has received $2.38 million in funding for two KU TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) grants that will provide services across five counties: Douglas, Franklin, Leavenworth, Shawnee and Wyandotte. The primary objective of the grant is to provide support for adults 19 years of age and older who are seeking to further their education.

Specializing in assisting nontraditional students to navigate the process, together the two KU TRIO EOC programs serve 2,000 Kansans annually, including veterans, immigrants, former foster youth and more, who all aspire to be first-generation college students but need assistance overcoming barriers to education and financial success.

CEOP Legacy

KU is one of more than 1,000 higher education institutes that offer federally funded TRIO programs in the United States. Across five counties in northeastern Kansas, CEOP has long-standing and successful relationships with school districts and communities to implement seven different types of TRIO programs. KU’s legacy of successfully implementing educational equity programs is evident in the continued awarding of federally funded programs that have brought more than $100 million of external funding to the university.

“I want to make sure Kansans not only have access to high-quality higher education, but also find success,” Kamaṱuka said. “Access isn’t enough if students don’t also have support. We provide decades of evidence-based support that is personalized to the unique needs of today’s students. KU’s TRIO programs will help the university work toward that goal.”

Top right photo: Two KU TRIO Upward Bound students build underwater robots during an afternoon STEM activity during the six-week-long Non-Bridge Summer Institute. Credit: Laura Kingston.
Bottom right photo: A KU TRIO Talent Search middle schooler looked through college and career books to complete a career exploration scavenger hunt during the Career Horizons Summer Camp. Credit: Laura Kingston.